University of Missouri

Here's Drew Lock's competition in next year's NFL Draft

Drew Lock talks about MU's new offense

Missouri quarterback Drew Lock discusses new things the team is doing under new offensive coordinator Derek Dooley.
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Missouri quarterback Drew Lock discusses new things the team is doing under new offensive coordinator Derek Dooley.

Drew Lock returned for his senior season at Missouri, partly because of the loaded NFL Draft class at quarterback. Many scouts have dubbed it the best in years, which would have bumped the Lee’s Summit native out of the first round.

Now with Lock under center for one more year, he has new competition in order to be the first quarterback off the board. Here are some names to watch for the upcoming college football season who could give Lock a run for his future money.

Will Grier, West Virginia

The stats: 3,490 yards passing, 34 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 64.4 completion percentage.

The word: Grier was right with Lock for most of the 2017 season in touchdown passes, but ultimately fell short. Scouts compare his ceiling to Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, as a potential late first-round pick, but want to see him do more in a West Virginia offense that traditionally puts up big numbers and has talented receivers. “Tremendous downfield accuracy,” Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting said. “Really great feel for perimeter throws. More about not being streaky. Kind of forces the ball sometimes. Showing that he’s more than just utilizing his weapons.”

Clayton Thorson, Northwestern

The stats: 2,844 yards passing, 15 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 60.4 completion percentage.

The word: Thorson was a candidate to leave school early but tore his ACL in January. Thorson is a traditional pocket passer who is currently looked at as a sleeper who could move into the first round with a good year. “Has the arm talent to work on the perimeter extremely well,” Galko said. “Didn’t look comfortable throughout the season. For him it’s about being more efficient and improving his decision-making, while showing he’s healthy.”

Justin Herbert, Oregon

The stats: 1,983 yards passing, 15 touchdowns, five interceptions, 67.5 completion percentage.

The word: “He’s going to be one of, if not the top quarterback in next year’s class,” Galko said. Herbert took command of the Ducks offense and put up big numbers last year. Galko said the belief is Herbert is the biggest threat to Lock’s chances of being the nation’s top quarterback prospect and has the size (6 feet 6) and age (he’s only 20) to do so. The biggest thing for Herbert is taking the Ducks offense to a new level.

Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State

The stats: 1,782 yards passing, 15 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 55.6 completion percentage

The word: Fitzgerald has benefited from the success of his his predecessor Dak Prescott, who now stars for the Dallas Cowboys. Galko said NFL teams have told him that Fitzgerald looks like a better version of Tim Tebow, when the current New York Mets prospect was coming out of Florida. Galko said Fitzgerald has to back up more of the talk and emerge as a prospect in his own right, rather than being given the benefit of the doubt. “More of a really strong team manager,” Galko said. “Doesn’t take easy throws for granted.”